BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 09:21 GMT
Submarine cash injection 'essential'
Vanguard
Safety features include an earthquake-proof dry dock
The government has said it was forced to step in with taxpayers' money to bail out the refit of nuclear submarines.

Design and construction delays of the Royal Navy's new purpose-built refit centre at Devonport in Plymouth has meant costs ballooning from 650m to 933m.

The Ministry of Defence will pay 849m, leaving taxpayers with a bill of at least an extra 199m, a National Audit Office (NAO) report said.

Meanwhile, the refit of Trident submarine HMS Vanguard is going ahead at the dockyard before the completion of a decontamination building.


It was absolutely essential for our nuclear deterrent programme

Lord Bach

Under the original contract between the MoD and private contractor Devonport Management Limited (DML), the risks of any cost overruns were transferred to DML.

But Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach said the MoD needed the base to be ready by February for the first of four Trident submarines to undergo a two-year refit.

He said: "It was essential for our nuclear deterrent programme that there was a facility ready for HMS Vanguard to be refitted by February.

He added: "Our judgement has been vindicated by the report that the only course we could take was to renegotiate the contract."

DML now faces a liability bill of 43m - up from 35m due to the extra costs.

Trident
All Trident subs are due for a refit

Peter Whitehouse of DML said the costs were nothing to be ashamed of when compared with other major UK projects.

He said: "If we look at the costs on the Channel Tunnel, extension to the London Underground, they show very significant increases."

The government has blamed poor management by DML.

But DML's view is that the MoD was largely to blame because it insisted on ever higher safety standards.

The NAO report said neither side understood the sheer complexity of the refitting task.

One large element of the refit area is a "Primary Circuit Decontamination Building".

It is meant to decontaminate a submarine's primary circuit, but it is not finished yet.

Temporary solution

The first refit, on Vanguard, is being carried out without it, relying on alternative shielding techniques instead.

DML has said the temporary solution has been approved by the regulators.

Lord Bach has also emphasises no corners were being cut on safety.

He said: "Vanguard is being refitted under very careful safety procedures."

Other safety features include the making the submarine dock earthquake proof.

Local economy

Defence analyst John Reid, who has been watching the project, said: "It is now a much safer installation than had originally been envisaged."

However, despite safety concerns, Professor Peter Gripaios from the University of Plymouth said the overspend has been good for the local economy.

He said: "The effect of this spending is pretty widespread across Devon and Cornwall.

"It gives a much-needed boost to Plymouth's economy and it really does need it. So, the longer this work carries on the better for the city."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Hughes
"The biggest nuclear construction project in Europe"
The BBC's Hugh Pym
"The National Audit Office report chronicles a sorry story of cost overruns, rows, and delays"

Click here to go to BBC Cornwall

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

06 Dec 02 | England
06 Dec 02 | UK
27 Nov 02 | England
20 Nov 02 | England
18 Nov 02 | England
18 Nov 02 | England
11 Feb 02 | England
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes